The overall goal of universal design is to ensure that spaces do not discriminate and that they benefit people regardless of their abilities, needs and cultural preferences. Universal design offers designers and builders a competitive advantage through attractive designs that enable people to better meet current needs, evolve to address changing needs and age in place.
The approach can benefit all types of housing from single-detached to multi-unit residential buildings and new and renovations. Our Universal Design Guide focuses on multi-unit residential Buildings (MURBs).
Incorporating universal design in housing and our built environments promotes social inclusion and creates communities without barriers.
Examples of universal design features
- The parking areas, approach to the building and entrances are easy to navigate, understand and are accessible to everyone.
- The vertical circulation includes elevators and stairs that are easy to use, safe and accessible to everyone.
- The horizontal circulation offers convenient, intuitive and accessible pathways with sufficient space for mobility devices.
- The kitchens, laundry facilities and common areas meet a variety of needs and are easily adaptable to meet future accessibility needs.
- The bathrooms are modern in design and will require minimal adaptation in the future to accommodate mobility devices.
Anticipating changing needs means better design in the long-term
Universal design is a forward-looking solution to changing needs over a household’s life cycle. The approach also provides a foundation for ensuring that housing can better respond to the needs of people with disabilities. While the approach is different from accessible design, universal design makes it easier to adapt housing to meet the needs of current and future residents. It’s practical, marketable and cost-effective.
Universal design isn’t more expensive
With universal design, residents and housing providers can save money — both upfront and over time. Because universal design anticipates changing needs, residents and housing providers can avoid expensive renovations. The approach helps seniors age in place longer and can delay the costs of group living.